Robe & Gavel: Federal Judicial Vacancy Count released for Sept. 1

Welcome to the Sept. 12 edition of Robe & Gavel, Ballotpedia’s newsletter about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) and other judicial happenings around the U.S.

The sylvan slopes with corn-clad fields
Are hung, as if with golden shields,
Bright trophies of the sun!
Like a fair sister of the sky,
Unruffled doth the blue lake lie,
The mountains looking on.

And, sooth to say, yon vocal grove,
Albeit uninspired by love,
By love untaught to ring,
May well afford to mortal ear
An impulse more profoundly dear
Than music of the Spring.

—William Wordsworth, “September 1819”

Hello again, gentle readers! Thank you for indulging me in some late summer poetic wandering. Let’s gavel in, shall we?

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Since our previous issue, SCOTUS has accepted no new cases to its merits docket.

To date, the court has agreed to hear 27 cases during its 2022-2023 term


The Supreme Court will begin its 2022-2023 term on Oct. 3. During its October sitting, the court will hear arguments in eight cases over two weeks.

The court’s November argument sitting begins on Oct. 31. The court will hear arguments in 10 cases.

Nine cases have not yet been added to the argument calendar.


SCOTUS has not issued any opinions since our previous edition. 

The Federal Vacancy Count

The Federal Vacancy Count tracks vacancies, nominations, and confirmations to all United States Article III federal courts in a one-month period. 

The Sept. 1 report covers nominations, confirmations, and vacancies from Aug. 2 through Sept. 1. The U.S. Courts data used for this report is published on the first of each month and covers the previous month.


  • Vacancies: There were five new judicial vacancies. There were 79 vacancies out of 870 active Article III judicial positions. Including the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the U.S. territorial courts, 81 of 890 active federal judicial positions were vacant.  
  • Nominations: There were two new nominations. 
  • Confirmations: There were two new confirmations.

Vacancy count for Sept. 1, 2022

A breakdown of the vacancies at each level can be found in the table below. For a more detailed look at the vacancies in the federal courts, click here.

*Though the United States territorial courts are named as district courts, they are not Article III courts. They are created in accordance with the power granted under Article IV of the U.S. Constitution. Click here for more information.

New vacancies

Five judges left active status, creating Article III life-term judicial vacancies. The president nominates individuals to fill Article III judicial positions. Nominations are subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

The following chart compares the number of vacancies on the United States Courts of Appeals on the date of President Joe Biden’s (D) inauguration to vacancies on Sept. 1.

U.S. District Court vacancies

The following map shows the number of vacancies in the United States District Courts as of Sept. 1, 2022.

New nominations

President Biden announced two new nominations:

The president has announced 141 Article III judicial nominations since taking office Jan. 20, 2021. For more information on the president’s judicial nominees, click here.

New confirmations

The U.S. Senate confirmed two nominees:

As of Sept. 1, 2022, the Senate had confirmed 76 of President Biden’s judicial nominees—57 district court judges, 18 appeals court judges, and one Supreme Court justice.

Comparison of Article III judicial appointments over time by president (1981-Present)

  • Presidents have appointed an average of 67 judges through Sept. 1 of their second year in office.
  • President Bill Clinton (D) made the most appointments through September 1 of his second year with 85. President Barack Obama (D) made the fewest with 42.
  • President Donald Trump (R) made the most appointments through four years with 234. President Reagan made the fewest through four years with 166.

Need a daily fix of judicial nomination, confirmation, and vacancy information? Click here for continuing updates on the status of all federal judicial nominees.

Or, keep an eye on this list for updates on federal judicial nominations.

Looking ahead

We’ll be back on Oct. 3 with a new edition of Robe & Gavel to herald in the new SCOTUS term. Until then, gaveling out! 


Kate Carsella compiled and edited this newsletter.